Twitter Ads Get Smarter: Network to Begin Targeting Ads Based on User Account Info and Browser History

Alex Baker
Alex Baker Director of Communication, Screenpush

Posted on July 10th 2013

Twitter Ads Get Smarter: Network to Begin Targeting Ads Based on User Account Info and Browser History

ImageLast Wednesday, as most people were gearing up for a national holiday and extended weekend, Twitter rather sneakily announced that it would soon begin targeting users with ads in the form of Promoted Tweets specifically based on their account info and browser history.

In a company blog post, Twitter senior director of product and revenue, Kevin Weil explained that the network would soon “be experimenting with a way to make ads on Twitter more useful to our users in the United States by displaying promoted content from brands and businesses they’ve shown interest in.”

Retargeting based on cookies

Twitter’s plan essentially involves retargeting ads based on browser-based cookies and email identification with third-party sites.

Using the proposed new format, businesses will be able to target users based on email or subscription lists. Using scrambled, unreadable email addresses or cookies, Twitter will attempt to correctly match information to accounts to show them Promoted Tweets for products, services, and deals they may be interested in.

How it will work

In his blog post, Weil explained that the new format would work something like this:

“Let’s say a local florist wants to advertise a Valentine’s Day special on Twitter. They’d prefer to show their ad to flower enthusiasts who frequent their website or subscribe to their newsletter. To get the special offer to those people who are also on Twitter, the shop may share with us a scrambled, unreadable email address (a hash) or browser-related information (a browser cookie ID). We can then match that information to accounts in order to show them a Promoted Tweet with the Valentine’s Day deal.”

Users who wish to opt-out of receiving the targeted ads in their stream will be able to do so fairly easily, by unchecking the box next to “promoted content” in their account settings.

Twitter will begin rolling out the targeted ads in the U.S. but at the time, it’s not known when they’ll begin a wider international rollout. Twitter has also yet to name any of the brands that will be getting onboard with the targeted ads.

At first glance, Twitter’s proposed new ad format seems to closely resemble rival network Facebook’s own ad retargeting service, Facebook Exchange.

Better ads could mean more $

This is the latest of several steps Twitter has taken in the past few months to beef up its advertising offerings. Recently the network has released an ads API and an interactive ads dashboard to provide marketers with more control.

However if the social network is successful in integrating this revised format to its Promoted Tweets, it could prove an effective way for the micro-blogging site to ramp up its ads business – something that would make it more appealing to investors in the event of the IPO that may or may not be in the works for the coming year. 

Alex Baker

Alex Baker

Director of Communication, Screenpush

As the Director of Communication at Screenpush, blogger, journalist and copywriter Alex Baker helps brands connect with their target demographic in the digital space. Although he is generally pretty up-to-date about the latest developments in social media marketing he needs to remember to update his Twitter more often. You can find Alex on Google+.

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Sayem Mustafa
Posted on July 10th 2013 at 7:09AM

What if fake profiles RT our promoted tweets? Will we be required to pay for them also? 

Alex Baker
Posted on July 11th 2013 at 12:15AM

Good question Syed. It's still not entirely clear how exactly this will all play out to be honest.